Sextet of Adjunct Music Instructors Perform 20th Century Music with a “Gamut” of Emotions

From left to right, clarinetist Margo McGowan, oboist Charlyn Bethell, and bassoonist Gregory Newton playing together.

From bassoon to French horn, six of Andover’s adjunct music instructors blended the sounds of six different instruments in “Sextet for Piano and Winds” by Francis Poulenc. Audience member Bob Baughman, an adjunct instructor in Music, described how the performers highlighted each instrument in the complex and multilayered sextet.

“The performance was so high-leveled and brought out all the emotions that the composers put into the music. The musicians were able to execute the pieces in a very beautiful way… Each individual instrument had its chance to be displayed,” said Baughman.

Held on Sunday in the Timken Room of Graves, the annual Adjunct Instructors Recital featured flutist Lisa Hennessy, oboist Charlyn Bethell, clarinetist Margo McGowan, bassoonist Gregory Newton, pianist Stephen Porter, and guest French hornist Michael Bellofatto. They played a variety of chamber music pieces from the 20th century, including “Suite for Winds No.1” by Charles Lefebvre and “Divertimento” by Jean Françaix. Hennessy discussed what she enjoyed about the pieces performed.

“They’re all my favorites. That’s always really hard. It’s like choosing your favorite kid. [‘Umoja: The First Day of Kwanzaa’ for woodwind quintet by Valerie Coleman] was so joyful and happy. I feel like it was very evocative and you can hear animals and life all around you. The Lefebvre was so pretty and charming from start to finish. But the Poulenc might be my favorite just because the piano added to the texture, making it very thick and giving it a lot of variety,” said Hennessy.

Audience member and student musician Morgan Hsu ’26 talked about how she appreciated the diversity of the concert’s repertoire. Invited by her oboe teacher, Hsu described what she enjoyed most about the different pieces.

“I really liked the diversity of the pieces. Some of them were pretty classic, while others were very arbitrary but still made sense. I thought the selection of music was really good,” said Hsu.

From “joy, gratitude, and excitement” to “sadness, sauciness, and briskness,” Hennessy hoped to convey a variety of emotions to the audience through this performance. She discussed how intellectually stimulating she believes music is through a brain scan analogy, highlighting her emphasis on the mood of each piece.

“You probably know about the [experiment] when [scientists] hook up monitors to people’s brains while they’re playing tennis or doing math. The thing that lights up the biggest area of our brains is playing music. We think about intonation, ensemble, our own technique, articulation, et cetera. I was probably thinking mostly about the mood, the music, and trying to make art,” said Hennessy.

Porter agreed with Hennessy’s sentiment of expressing a wide range of emotions through playing these pieces. He hoped that the audience enjoyed the music, such as the French harmonies of the Poulenc.

“I hope [the audience] liked those gorgeous harmonies and melodies from France [by Poulenc]. It’s such a romantic piece, even though it’s written in the ’30s…[it has] all emotions. Everything is in there. Happiness, sadness, anger, joy, love…you name it,” said Porter.